SROs are more than safety
Watching a handful of the nation’s larger school districts openly and enthusiastically cancelling contracts with their local law enforcement for their School Resource Officers leaves many of us in law enforcement both puzzled and concerned. School District officials have indicated in many of these larger communities that the presence of armed police officers prohibits many students and staff from feeling fully safe. Some teachers and students say they consider officers in the schools a danger.
Some districts complain of unnecessary use of force and targeting of minorities. While many of these districts have experienced problems, they would be better off tapping the brakes on this kind of drastic measure – put politics aside and look at the training and hiring process for these officers, look at the policies and procedures established, identify and focus on what your goals are, and move forward to improve these programs and continue to work to keep your schools and your kids safe.
One of the biggest goals for our School Resource Officer (Deputy Dave Skadson) in the Triton and Hayfield School Districts is to develop positive relationships and trust with our youth, and collaborate with educators and mental health professionals to proactively address safety issues in our schools. His goal is to develop those relationships, especially with at-risk students, and help guide them thru challenges and keep them out of the juvenile justice system.
He also gets an opportunity to know the parents and help guide them to resources and assistance when needed. The relationships that Deputy Skadson has developed in the schools last beyond these kid’s school years – he has had young adults reach out to him after graduating with questions or problems they are dealing with because they trust him.
There is nothing more valuable with this program than the opportunity for us to build relationships with our next generation of leaders.
Some people think of our deputy as simply armed security – School Resource Officers (SROs) were never meant to be armed guards at the entrance. They are not hall monitors. They receive training in counseling and other skills that help them be effective problem solving with kids.
Obviously, safety is a primary goal. SROs increase safety in and around the schools; they increase perceptions of safety, and improve response times to emergencies within the schools and their events. Everyday Deputy Skadson heads out to the schools he knows there are hundreds of parents and community members relying on him to work closely with their school administration and community to help keep the campus’s safe.
We hand pick deputies for this position that we feel will best interact with and connect with the students and staff. These are some of the busiest law enforcement professionals we have. They don’t go in with the attitude of being there to make more arrests contrary to the belief of some – these men and women are trained to arrest when only absolutely necessary, while in most cases using their training and verbal communication skills to positively intervene when a problem comes up.
We are there to help provide a sense of safety for the students as well as the staff. We all know there have been far too many tragic incidents of active shooters in schools across the United States over the last several years. Having an established SRO program in our schools not only builds relations and trust with the community and our kids, it also helps dissuade bad actors (students and adults) considering causing harm to our kids and the great men and women educating them.
We appreciate all the support we have received from both Triton and Hayfield Schools regarding our partnership, and we are very proud of the work Deputy Skadson does in our schools. As I have said many times before – your satisfaction is the greatest measure of our success.
If you have any questions about our program and the work we do in our schools, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. mn.us or feel free to call me at 507-635-6200. Your Sheriff, Scott
Scott Rose is in his second term as sheriff of Dodge County. He writes regularly for this newspaper.